Very rarely has a month started this way for me, total enchantment! To start with, I discovered English electro-soul duo HONNE by pure accident on Monday 6th at the Sky Train Jazz Club as they came in mostly incognito and jammed the place out until everyone in the attendance left the venue with a wide smile displayed on their face. Surreal. That was followed by being able to last minute get to see their sold out show at Voice Space and they were brilliant act in every way, shape and form.
But the best was yet to come just two days after because British female revelation from the early 2000s Miss Jocelyn Eve Stocker, better known as Joss Stone, was set to be in Bangkok as part of her world tour. With her on-demand goose-bump generating mezzo-soprano vocal range, Joss gained popularity over the past 15+ years, signing soul cover albums and original material. She has had regular multi-platinum album sales, multiple award nominations and become the youngest Britt Awards solo artist winner at only 17 in 2005. That was followed by multi Grammy Award wins and obviously it’s clear to see that she has had a fantastic career up till now.
On the night, she was performing for the 6th time in the Thai capital, a gig made special as it was the 100th gig of her current “Joss Stone Total World Tour”, which unlike other world tours, she has been on since 2014 with the goal of visiting every country in the world, collaborating and gaining inspiration from musicians worldwide.
For the occasion, the rooftop restaurant at the peak of United Tower on Silom Road known as Cloud 47 on did it’s best to welcome the UK soul superstar and her fans.
As the promoters put it, it was literally a “Night with Joss Stone” with 2 different ticket options offered. First, a 2,000 THB entrance fee would simply get you access to the venue to see Joss Stone’s performance, but a 5,000 THB ticket would include an all you can eat buffet on top of the show itself. Hmm … well, why not.
She never held back, always giving the crowd what they originally came for – a great time.
But … yeah, you could feel that “but” coming. Honestly, I was not so convinced of the double purpose of a “dinner show” and in the end as you could hear some distant but still very clear noise of catering / hi-volume chatting on one side and the concert going on. Also, and I mean this as objectively as possible, the stage setting looked rather, well, simple. With hardly any decoration or a specific theme, the big screen on the background simply displayed the event sponsors at a very monotonic and sluggish pace. At some point, it felt quite like the organizers realized they had to hide the misery of the concrete walls and used some plain white bed sheets to get the job done. The only point I mean to make though is that the surrounding, disposition and sound equipment of the stage didn’t entirely give the artist the justice she deserved.
That being said, none of those things affected the singer’s performance. She never held back, always giving the crowd what they originally came for – a great time. Accompanied by notable big guns musicians – Rick Jordan on drums, Pete Lannacone on bass and Steve Down on guitars – Stone’s vocal prowess was matched by a great crew, with Rick and Steve notably solid. All these cats knew their parts and delivered the proper groove and runway for Stone to take off.
An excellent cover of “Bad Boy (What You Gonna Do?)” displayed the tightest complicity she had with her four musicians. The interaction was always great, surprising and never overdone – fantastic musicality and showmanship.
One performance hiccup was the absence of a proper guitar-tech to tune and keep Steve’s guitars at the ready to avoid one or two noticeable blanks. But forget what I said about that being a hiccup, as Joss had just the right plan to cover such moments, her multiple but devoted attempts to pronounce “Kob Khun Kaa” failed in the most adorable way. But she got it right by the end, gaining the total respect of the crowd in the process. That’s how it’s done, Joss style!
In between songs, she would take her time, having a few sips from her cup of tea while openly mentioning the recent International Women Day. “Love Me”, a very pleasant reggae tune from her latest album “Water For The Soul”, was a great track, with just the right vibe for the semi open venue. The Bangkok crowd started out a little shy and it was tracks like this that helped them get into the evening more. And if there was any song that turned the audience on its head, it would have had to be the cover song included on the 2003 Soul Session 1 album called “Super Duper Love (Are You Digging On Me)” originally performed by Sugar Billy in 1974. A singer / audience role game quickly took place and the song ended in the most energizing way.
You know an artist has reached a convincing and deserved success level when the entire audience remains totally silent until the very last moment of an intense and emotional tune. It was a common theme throughout the night as I even witnessed a few tears rolling on some cheeks here and there.
Eventually, the catering noise ended once and for all and literally everybody started dancing until the very end. One of the last tunes “Right to Be Wrong” (from what Joss Stone called herself her very debut album 2004 “Mind, Body And Soul”) received some truly magical response from the crowd, causing the barefoot Joss to alter the lyrics of the song to create an appropriate ending of an already amazing show. “I hope you’ll never leave me alone”. No worries Joss, we won’t. Ever.
You know an artist has reached a convincing and deserved success level when the entire audience remains totally silent until the very last moment of an intense and emotional tune. It was a common theme throughout the night as I even witnessed a few tears rolling on some cheeks here and there. Including mine, yeah… very admittedly.
In and out, I was still wanting of a little bit more as the one and only encore song pushed the show total running time at about an hour and twenty minutes, which some may say was rather short and I admit a few very personal favorites of mine such as “The Chokin’ Kind” and “The Love We Had” would have been more than welcome.
On second thought though, maybe those would not be truly suitable for this particular gig, so no big regrets or hard feelings there, just the impatience to see Joss coming back again, hopefully at a more fitting venue. I’m quite sure that she will come back.
Despite of the few drawbacks, I don’t know how one could not be won over by Joss’ obvious personality and communicative enjoyment on stage. She basically can do whatever she wants, and she’ll get away with it under thunderous applause. Thank you so much Miss Joss Stone. It was a true pleasure and honor to see you for the very first time. Your very soul rocks (pun quite intended).
Written by guest writer Ludovic Leflon, image credit of Joss Stone’s official Facebook page